Tuesday 22 May 2018

a starry night to see out the year


Broadcasters seem to operate on the assumption that the majority of people will be out and about painting the town puke on New Year's Eve, so why bother putting on decent programmes?

This year, however, is a little different. Maybe it's because 2013 doesn't promise any great relief from the economic misery of the last 12 months, but most of the main channels have put in a little more thought and effort than usual.

Jools Holland's Hootenanny on BBC2 last year was a little dull. This year, however, Holland has assembled a line-up that promises something to suit most ages and tastes: Petula Clark, Ruby Turner, Bobby Womack, Lianne La Havas, Emeli Sande, Jake Bugg, Paloma Faith, The Hives, and a trio of 1980s survivors, Kevin Rowland, Roland Gift and Adam Ant. Even The Dubliners are along for the party.


Okay, so everyone knows by now that it's not a live show (it's pre-recorded around the December 20 mark) but it's still the best way to ring in the new.

Over on BBC1, The Graham Norton Show has an even starrier feel, with Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman and Billy Crystal sharing the sofa. In a similar vein, Alan Carr's New Year Specstacular on Channel 4 promises two hours of banter, sketches and party antics from guests including Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr, Gok Wan, Jack Whitehall, Melanie Sykes and Bruno Mars. Whether you'll last the distance will depend on your tolerance for the host. As ever, UTV/ITV1 barely acknowledges it's New Year's Eve at all by showing Bridget Jones's Diary for the umpteenth time, while TV3 takes us into 2013 with the Norton show that was on BBC1 earlier.

Which brings us to the poor suffering souls living in Saorview land. Can RTE1 up its game after its feeble Christmas Night offerings? If you shouted an emphatic "No!" you'd be bang on the money.

The Great Big Surprise Party at 9.30pm features the insufferable PJ Gallagher organising a surprise shindig for Finglas woman Betty Maher, who has inspired her community. I'm sure she deserves the honour, but without wishing to sound rude: it's New Year's Eve, I'm not from Finglas, I don't know Betty and, y'know, I really couldn't care less.

If you're still awake at 10.30pm, New Year's Eve Live: The Gathering is unleashed. No, that's not a typo. Yes, RTE really has chosen to snuff out the dying embers of 2012 with the official launch of a cynical piece of hucksterism designed to squeeze a few tourist dollars out of the diaspora.

Miriam O'Callaghan, inevitably, hosts and the exshitement (that's not a typo either) starts at College Green. I'll see you on the other side.

nobody wants you, piers As we lurch towards 2013 it's nice to see humanity has its priorities right. Exhibit A: hours after the Sandy Hook school shootings, Piers Morgan uses his CNN show to attack America's pro-gun lobby.

Response: 25,000 gun-loving nutters sign an online petition calling for Morgan to be kicked out of the US. In Britain, meanwhile, 600 people sign a counter-petition calling on America to keep him, as nobody in the UK wants him back.

Exhibit B: a few days after the shootings, Coronation Street and I'm a Celebrity pea-brain Helen Flanagan (right) tweets a photo of herself wearing a black bra and pointing a toy gun at her head. Response: Twitter goes into meltdown and Flanagan appears on ITV's Daybreak the following morning to apologise -- although who exactly she's apologising to is unclear.

Morgan is on the right side of the argument, yet the effects of his comments and Flanagan's childish antics are the same: a serious issue is trivialised and attention diverted to a couple of celebrities whose first priority is garnering as much publicity for themselves as possible. Welcome to a shining new dawn of the dumb.

GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS Having sat through The Royle Family Christmas special, I'll be happy if the sofa-bound slackers never trouble the Christmas schedules again.

It was dismal: a cartoonish, going-through-the-motions betrayal of everything that made us love the series.

The interminable opening segment about Dave's malfunctioning 'dickie' was so puerile and out of character it felt like we were watching a lost Carry On film


The main plot, if you can call it that, about fixing widowed neighbour Joe up with a new woman was silly, unconvincing and stretched to breaking point.

If I'd wanted to see a Christmas panto, I'd have gone to the Gaiety -- or watched Mrs Brown's Boys. It's time for the Royles to abdicate.

LATE GREATS Christmas was marred by the deaths of two television greats, Jack Klugman and Gerry Anderson, within the space of 24 hours. Klugman, after a long career on stage and in the movies, scored two massive TV hits, first as slobbish Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and then as dogged medical examiner Quincy.

Anderson was the animation genius behind ground-breaking puppet series including Stingray, Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet. He also made successful forays into live-action sci-fi with the classy UFO and Space: 1999. They leave behind some cherished TV memories.

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